The Margetson Demos

Big Boy Pete

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The Margetson Demos Review

by Stanton Swihart

Though he has not yet become a household name -- perhaps because he never spent time in an asylum, homeless shelter, or halfway house and because he actively continued to make and promote his music -- Pete Miller's body of work deserves the same sort of devoted coterie of enthusiasts as other great eccentric acid mavericks like Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Skip Spence. The Margetson Demos is still more evidence of Big Boy Pete's incomparable, fascinatingly bizarre vision. And his was no cheeky "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" punnery but the real "L.S.D." deal. The compilation features just what the title says: 23 unpolished demo recordings made by Miller alone at his home studio on Margetson Avenue on the outskirts of Norwich between the Technicolor years of 1966 and 1968, and released here for the first time. Miller himself confesses that many of these songs, to say nothing of the rough-hewn recordings and performances, are unfinished. Still, some of them are raw, inspired pop-psych lunacy of the best sort, including an inspired one-two-three commencement: "Nothingness Minus the Fun," "Baby, Get Some of That," and "Silhouette," the last with the opening riff of the Turtles' "Happy Together" apparently dancing in its head. The awesomely creepy "My Love Is Like a Spaceship," which eventually found its way onto the flip side of the classic "Cold Turkey," is here in its primitive form, and "The Painter" and "Charactor Actors" are also magnificent, even as half doses. It's not surprising that the songs strongest on tune are the most successful in this stripped-down state, while the ones heavier on mood -- dirges, drones, and soundscapes that would undoubtedly blossom with fuller, more sympathetic productions -- are less so. Even the lesser demos, though, retain the distinctive, unmistakable Big Boy Pete stamp. In his liner notes, Miller suggests that an enterprising artist might be interested in taking a crack at completing one or more of these tunes. It would need to be a remarkable artist.

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